What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?
Thanks for asking! LGBTQIA+ (and many other variations, including LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA2S) is often used as an umbrella term for anyone who identifies as not-straight or not-cisgender. It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic. There are so many other identities that fall under this umbrella, though, which is what the + stands for. For example, I’m nonbinary and pansexual, neither of which has a letter represented in the abbreviation.
Why do you use the word "queer"?
I identify as queer and use that term and LGBTQIA+ as umbrella terms for anyone identifying as not-straight and/or not-cisgender. Queer has historically been used as a slur against LGBTQIA+ people and many do not feel comfortable with its use, while others (myself included) embrace the reclamation of the term. I respect the right of other LGBTQIA+ folks to not use that term for themselves and expect queer and non-LGBTQIA+ folks to respect them as well by not using the term for them.
WHY A QUEER BOOKSTORE?
Salt Lake City is already home to several awesome independent bookstores that carry LGBTQIA+ books, so why open a queer bookstore?
Opening a queer bookstore is important to me in part because of the books. I want to highlight the stories by and about queer people who have traditionally been excluded from publishing and mainstream media. Less than 5% of the publishing industry identifies as non-cisgender, and the industry is 81% straight, according to a Diversity in Publishing survey. And according to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, only 18 YA books written by LGBTQ authors of color were published in 2017 and 2018. According to author Malinda Lo, 81% of LGBTQ YA fiction in 2016 featured a cisgender boy or girl as the main character. The publishing industry is doing better (the ALA's 2021 Rainbow Book List evaluated almost 600 LGBTQIA+ titles published between July 2019 and December 2020!), but we still have a long way to go. Most general interest bookstores still aren't going to carry books written by small LGBTQ presses that may not appeal to their general audience.
But opening a queer bookstore is also important to me for reasons that have little to do with books. Under the Umbrella is about having a space where you can go and know that you are accepted and validated. It's about knowing that everyone who works there will respect your pronouns. It's about seeing other people like you and feeling safe to be yourself around them. And yeah, it's about knowing that you can pick up any book and see your existence be understood and included. It's about celebrating and empowering ourselves and our community. It's about creating space and taking up space and welcoming other queer folks into that space with us.
AM I QUEER ENOUGH?
Yes! If you are queer, you are queer enough! You are welcome and loved here. If you're still unsure, come in any way. I will happily tell you to your cute queer face that you are queer enough.
WHAT KINDS OF BOOKS WILL YOU CARRY?
Under the Umbrella carries books that feature queer stories and/or are written by queer authors. We primarily have new books, but we also offer some used books and lots of other queer gifts.
While we absolutely want to celebrate and support queer authors creating queer stories, we are also cognizant that it is not possible for all queer people to be out—and we shouldn’t require them to be. That means that we may carry books by cishet authors who have created books with queer storylines. We won’t gatekeep these stories but also want to prioritize supporting QTPOC authors where possible.
I'M NOT OUT YET—DO YOU OFFER DISCREET PACKAGING?
Yes! If you order through our affiliate link at Bookshop.org, your order will come from them, not us. If you purchase in store, you can ask for discreet packaging. Learn more.